Climate Change: The Paris Agreement’s false promises

Sen Doug Whitsett

by Sen. Doug Whitsett

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change (Agreement) is being hailed by its proponents as a huge step forward in reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and saving the environment. However, further review of what the Agreement will actually accomplish raises several questions about its effectiveness, true costs and impacts on energy availability, grid reliability and the average citizen’s standard of living.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director Gina McCarthy called the Agreement “an incredible achievement” during recent testimony before the Congressional House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. But in response to direct questioning by committee members, she was unable to even estimate its potential cost and repeatedly failed to explain how much its implementation would delay any increase in global temperature.

A joint statement on the Paris Agreement was issued by the presidents of Canada, Mexico and the United States following their recent meeting in Ottawa. They declared in the statement that the Agreement was a “turning point for our planet.”

“North America has the capacity, resources and the moral imperative to show strong leadership building on the Paris Agreement and promoting its early entry into force,” they stated. However, their collective statement also failed to address either how effective the Agreement’s implementation would be in reducing global warming, or its potential cost to working people, businesses, industries and families in their three nations.

Bjorn Lomborg, a former Greenpeace activist, actually did answer questions regarding cost and efficacy in a peer-reviewed article that was recently published in Global Policy Journal. Dr. Lomborg’s research reveals enormous costs with little, if any, benefit to either the planet or its people:

Even if every nation fulfilled every Paris Agreement promise by the year 2030, the total global temperature reduction would be less than one-tenth of one degree Fahrenheit by 2100.

Even if every nation would extend that commitment for another 70 years, the entirety of the Paris promises would reduce temperature rises by only three-tenths of one degree F. by 2100.

Even if U.S. climate policies were fully achieved by 2030, and continued until the end of the century, global temperature rise will decrease by less than six one-hundredths (0.06) of one degree F.

Even if China climate policies were fully completed and continued throughout the century, global temperature rise would be decreased by less than five one-hundredth (0.05) of one degree F. by 2100.

Lomborg’s graph depicts the miniscule effects if every signatory nation on Earth complied with every feature of the Paris Agreement by 2030 and continued to adhere to those policies until the end of the century:

graph_Whitsett_7-14-2016

In short, Lomborg alleges the Agreement will fail because it makes “promises that are individually expensive, will have little impact even in a hundred years and that many governments will try to shirk.” In other words, it will cost a fortune while producing virtually no measurable change in either global climate or temperature.

Meanwhile, China has been putting a new coal-fired electricity generating plant on line every seven to ten days and has immediate plans to construct more than 150 new coal-fired plants. Japan also has 47 more coal fired plants in the pipeline.

In the U.S., the EPA adopted administrative rules in August of 2015 attempting to enforce its Clean Power Plan by bureaucratic fiat. The agency plans to invoke provisions of the 1970 Clean Air Act that the Agency construes to authorize the forced replacement of coal-fired generation with non-fossil fuel sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal and other renewables. Its aim appeared to be to virtually eliminate the generation of coal-fired electricity in the U.S.

The Plan specifically deters the shift to the use of our abundant and inexpensive supply of natural gas. The purposeful obstruction of the market-driven change to natural gas generating is particularly troubling because it is the increasing use of natural gas that is primarily responsible for the reduction of the U.S. share of global GHG emissions to late 1990s levels.

In a stinging rebuke to the Obama administration, the United States Supreme Court placed a hold on the Clean Power Plan earlier this year. It was one of the final official acts of longtime Justice Antonin Scalia, as he passed away days after that decision was issued.

The February 7, 2016 stay suggests the Court does not believe the Clean Air Act authorizes the regulatory activities that EPA included in its rulemaking. That stay will remain in place until an Appellate Court rules on its merits.

The Supreme Court may subsequently either rehear the case or allow the lower court ruling to stand. The hold is likely to remain in effect for at least 18 months or longer, depending upon how quickly the appellate process proceeds.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court stay does not affect Oregon’s first-in-the-nation Coal to Clean law enacted during the 2016 session. House Bill 4036 virtually doubles the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, prohibits coal-fired generation within the State and phases out the Oregon use of electricity generated from out-of-state coal fired plants.

The Oregon Public Utility Commission pointed out the law will result in little, if any, overall reduction in GHG emissions. The only coal-fired plant in Oregon, the Boardman facility, is already scheduled to be closed. Coal-fired plants located in other states, currently supplying electricity to Oregon, will continue to operate into the foreseeable future. Those plants will not cease to operate, will not stop using coal and will not reduce their GHG emissions as a result of Oregon’s Coal to Clean law, despite its proponents’ constant claims to the contrary.

Although the scheme will serve to help meet Oregon’s GHG reduction goals, neither regional nor global GHG emissions will be measurable reduced. The costs to Oregon households and businesses will be enormous.

It is worth noting that Oregon currently produces only about four ten-thousandths of one percent (0.04 percent) of global GHG emissions. That represents an unmeasurable one part in 2,500, and does not count the emissions from catastrophic wildfires that seem to burn every summer in our rural, unmanaged government-owned forests.

Most informed proponents of Clean to Coal understand even the complete depopulation of Oregon would not result in a measurable change in global GHG emissions. However, they assert that Oregon’s first-in-the-nation leadership in GHG emissions is worth the certain impending cost and anti-business effects.

In his aforementioned article, Lomborg explains that “subsidizing inefficient renewables is expensive and doesn’t work. The International Energy Agency estimates that we get 0.4 percent of our energy from wind and photovoltaic solar right now, and even in optimistic scenarios the fraction will only rise to 2.2 percent by 2040. Over the next 25 years, we’ll spend about $2.5 trillion in subsidies and reduce global warming temperatures by less than 0.02°C.” According to the Oregon Department of Energy, solar renewables currently provide only 0.17 percent of Oregon’s electric generating capacity. This is despite the massive public subsidies given to so-called “green energy” companies by our state government over the last decade.

Lomborg further explains how countries are on the wrong track in their efforts to reduce GHG emissions. “Instead of trying to make fossil fuels so expensive that no one wants them – which will never work – we should make green energy so cheap everybody will shift to it,” he wrote.

At the Copenhagen Consensus on Climate, 27 of the world’s top climate economists and three Nobel Laureates agreed the smartest, long-term climate policy is to invest in green research and development to push down the price of renewable energy. The Global Apollo Program also recognizes that “this approach is less expensive and much more likely to succeed.”

Until those renewable energy sources become economically feasible, the continued shift to natural gas for generation of electricity and transportation fuels is our best bet to reduce GHG emissions. It is both abundant and cheap. Effective technologies for its use are already in place.

Most important, little or no government interference or subsidies will be required. The change will be market-driven because, in most situations, the change to natural gas will actually reduce the consumer cost of energy.

Our leaders will soon have to decide what kind of energy future they want for this state. Deliberately using the heavy hand of government to create artificial scarcity, where there is currently abundance, will result in further struggle for middle and lower-class Oregonians far into the future. Attempts to “transform the market” through regulation and subsidies have failed by most objective measures and have largely only served to divert limited public funds and resources away from critical areas like law enforcement and education.

In contrast, we already have the ability to reduce GHG emissions through voluntary means that will better serve consumers and businesses alike. Hopefully, common sense will prevail over ideology and enable us all to keep the lights on and our homes adequately heated. Because as history shows, having the government pick winners and losers ultimately creates more losers than winners, and will cost all of us dearly.

Senator Doug Whitsett is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 28 – Klamath Falls

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Posted by at 06:57 | Posted in Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Green Energy | 15 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    What’s interesting is even with all the catastrophic headlines spun out by the green profiteer industry and power hungry governments, the public still rates concern about the environment rather far down the list of issues of public concern; I think only 5% of Oregonians listed it as a top concern in a recent poll I read in the papers.

    It’s really the folks standing to make profit on government mandates and tax payer subsidies, circulating campaign donations from these subsidies to the politicians running the state, which force the prioritization of “Climate Change.”

    • DavidAppell

      What “catastrophic” headlines?

      Can you list three?

      • bob Clark

        I guess there are no catastrophes said to be associated with climate change. Good. We don’t have to worry about it then.

        • DavidAppell

          “I guess there are no catastrophes said to be associated with climate change.”

          You avoided the question. TYpical.

    • DavidAppell

      And let’s see you address, Bob, if you are brave enough, the largest subsidy of all — fossil fuels companies get to pollute for free. This costs tens of thousands of premature deaths a year, and at least $120 billion per year.

      Who do you think is paying that cost, Bob? Who?

      Look in the mirror….

      • Yabba Dabba Doo

        DavidAppell Flintstone drives his RocksWagen only over Bamm-Bammed Barney Rubble.

      • Bob Clark

        Yes I rather enjoy spending $2 or so on a gallon of gasoline. I can’t imagine walking or bicycling to the coast to conduct business over there rather than driving a gasoline powered car; and I don’t imagine I will live for ever and probably not you either no matter how pure our environment. Maybe your genes are more sensitive to environmental factors. Sorry. I would advise staying indoors and air purifiers.
        Anyways, the so-called “pollution” here is a rather benign gas called CO^2. Plants seem to enjoy this gas. Heaven forbid we should be more concerned about diesel fuel emissions or carbon black.
        Fossil fuels have actually been helpful in replacing some of the old vile polluters like wood burners. I remember riding with my folks through Oregon in the 60s with sawmills and paper mills burning wood in what I think were called Wigwams. Talk about hurtful air.

        You should be grateful for the prosperity lifting whole societies out of poverty helped by the advent of technologies using the condensed energy available in fossil fuels.

        Rejoice. And don’t interfere with the market’s testing of new solutions. A new chemical process or other could turn that lemon (coal) into lemonade even on the CO^2 score.

        • Bob Clark

          diesel fuel emissions which should concern us is lead, trace metals, and soot; not very much concerned about the associated CO^2. That said the most concerning of these emissions from trucks have been getting better.

          • DavidAppell

            So you have no problem changing the climate for the next 100,000 years. And letting all the generations til then clean up your mess.

            You’re a greedy pig, Bob.

        • DavidAppell

          What you are doing, bob, is making everyone else pay the costs of your pollution.

          How do you justify that, as you claim you are a conservative?

  • DavidAppell

    Senator Doug: You failed to do sufficient research. (Don’t believe anything you read in the WSJ ed-op ed pages.)

    Lomborg’s recent paper contains big misrepresentations, says MIT professor John Sterman:

    “Dr. Lomborg sets out to show that the INDCs are useless. To do so he grossly misrepresents the pledges. He constructs an incomplete accounting of the pledges that omits the pledges of many nations, ignores China’s pledge to cap its emissions by 2030, and assumes that the [European Union countries] abandon their commitment to emissions reductions as soon as their pledges are fulfilled.”

    https://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/11/09/3720613/lomborg-misleads-paris-climate-pledges/

  • DavidAppell

    You also, Senator Doug, completely ignored a response to Lomborg’s paper that ran immediately after it, in the same issue of the journal:

    Comment on ‘Impact of Current Climate Proposals’, Robert E.T. Ward, Global Policy, 23 FEB 2016, DOI: 10.1111/1758-5899.12316.
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12295/full

    You’re not expected to understand all this, Senator Doug. But you are expected to do enough research to achieve fairness, not stopping at the borders of your ideology.

    • Bagwan w’your Rajneesh trash

      Appell, ewe fleece like a Cleopatra bum rolled up in an encryption shrug.

      • Ardbeg

        F-tard alert! Stop trolling! Stop name calling! Make an actual convincing point for once. Until then you’re just another contard.

        • guest

          Go stew in your own bland of scotch, Ardbeg!
          Appell is libtard with no viable schemes to impart.

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